Monday, 14 January 2013

The mini-est mini league, Kinneal v Skinflats, Chris Pendlebury

Introducing Kinneil v Skinflats.

Everyone has surely heard of Kinneil and Skinflats, probably the Upper Forth's premier birding spots. Situated either site of the picturesque Grangemouth oil refinery, the two sites are on the upper part of the Forth Estuary. The estuary is still tidal up here, but we are way from the east coast. Both sites have 1 or 2 lagoons (Kinneil has 1, Skinflats has 2), surrounded by farmland and small amounts of woodland. Skinflats has the advantage of having more of a reedbed and a good patch of saltmarsh; Kinneil has the advantage of being slightly further the coast and tends to be better for September 'sea' watching.

For the Patchwork Challenge, I have taken on Kinneil and Graeme Garner has taken on Skinflats. This follows on from a challenge between us in 2012 to year list the Upper Forth region, which I won but by only one species. Up till now in 2013, I had been focussing on my other patch (around Dunblane, where I live), and GG had been away. So today (6th) was our Day 1.

I was out earlier in the day, setting GG an easy target of 40 1-pointer species. There wasn't really anything of note, other than the usual array of waders and duck (dunlin, know, both godwits, pintail, teal etc.). Targets for this time of year would include ring-billed gull (regular for several years now), green-winged teal (also previously regular), other rarer gulls, plus more regular things like scaup; I failed with all of these today!

It was then GG's turn, who scored big (in Upper Forth terms) with 2 ROCK PIPIT. This species isn't recorded in the region on an annual basis, and was an UF tick for Graeme (I've only seen the species once before, at Kinneil last year). He also had 2 2-pointers: merlin and whooper swan. GG left the site with a more respectable total of 53 species and 55 points. His other highlights included 50+ tree sparrow (plus lots of yellowhammer and reed buntings), and a couple of water rails squealing from the reedbed.

Kinneil v Skinflats will continue next weekend, or possibly during the week...

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